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Failure to Accommodate Religious Beliefs Leads to Settlement Involving Employment Policy Changes

above-the-bar-logo.jpgThe EEOC recently settled a religious discrimination lawsuit with Convergys Customers Management Group (“Convergys”), which is a subsidiary of Cincinnati based Convergys Group, and a global provider of customer management services. The EEOC had charged Convergs with not hiring a job applicant who could not work on Saturdays because of his religious beliefs. If you have suffered from religious discrimination at your place of employment, call our attorneys to help you evaluate your rights. Our attorneys have recovered monetary compensation and obtained reasonable accommodations for many of our clients who have been discriminated against because of their religion
The EEOC alleged that Shannon Fantroy responded to an online advertisement for the position of customer service representative at Convergys’ call center in Hazelwood, Missouri. During Fantroy’s interview, the recruiter told him that he would have to work weekends. Fantroy told the recruiter that he could not work on Saturdays because of his religious beliefs. Fantroy was a Hebrew Israelite who observed Sabbath from sunup until sundown on Saturday. The recruiter told Fantroy that the interview was over if he could not work Saturdays and ended the interview.

Barbary A. Seely, the regional attorney for the EEOC’s St. Louis District Office, stated that “Mr. Fantroy never had a chance to discuss accommodation options because the recruiter simply cut him off once he stated that because of his religious beliefs he could not work on Saturdays.” She added that “Giving an employee an alternate schedule where hundreds of employees are available to cover the shift was not an unreasonable request . . . Other call center employers around the country should take note of these requirements.”

The two year consent decree provides that Convergys must train its recruiters on religious discrimination and accommodation law. Convergys must put in place a new company procedure which allows job applicants who have been offered a position to request religious accommodation. The decree also requires the recruiters to finish each interview application process even if the applicant states that he or she may need a schedule adjustment. The decree also requires Convergys to give written notice to all job applicants in the next two years that they may be entitled to an accommodation.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against a person because of their religious beliefs regarding any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, job assignments, pay, layoffs, promotions, training, or any other term or condition of employment. If you are a business or a private employer with 15 or more employees who have worked for you at least twenty calendar weeks in the current or past year, you are a covered employer under the law and you must reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices, unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden on your company’s operations. Some examples of religious accommodation include flexible scheduling, job reassignments, and modifications to workplace practices.

However, you do not have to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs if doing so would cause your business an undue hardship. For example, an undue hardship is one that is costly, compromises workplace safety, decreases workplace efficiency, affects other employee’s rights, or requires other employees to do more than their share of hazardous or burdensome work.

If you are a covered employer under the Title VII, make sure your employees and recruiters are trained in religious discrimination law. Our attorneys have conducted hundreds of training seminars for managers, supervisors and recruiters to help them understand the law and prevent unnecessary litigation. Call our Religious Discrimination Attorneys at Villanueva & Sanchala at (800) 893-9645 to help your company avoid potential lawsuits.

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